Ron DeSantis says Maine mass murder ‘could be another example’ of failed mental health system
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis waves to the crowd as he attends an event Friday, March 10, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Ron Johnson)

Ron DeSantis
The Governor won't blame guns, or access to them, for mass murders. That's a pattern he's established over the years.

In the wake of a gunman’s rampage through Lewiston, Maine, that has left at least 18 people dead according to the The Associated PressRon DeSantis isn’t blaming unfettered access to guns, and is instead assigning culpability to a lack of psychological help for the murderer.

“While the facts are still coming in, this could be another example of a failure of our nation’s mental health system,” DeSantis posted to social media.

The U.S. Army Reservist who authorities say shot up a bowling alley before heading to a nearby bar to shoot at more people reportedly displayed evidence of mental issues during reserve training this summer. He was taken to the Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point for observation.

For DeSantis, who signed a permitless carry law just this year in Florida, the muted response is just the latest in a series of reactions to mass murders where he offered little commentary on the weapons themselves.

Confronted in Jacksonville after a racist murder took three lives at a Dollar General in New Town, he said it was “outrageous” to blame him for the killing of three Black people by a White gunman with swastikas drawn on his AR-15.

During a friendly interview on Fox News, the Governor groused about critics who would “leverage that as a political cudgel to use against somebody that you disagree with politically.”

In 2022, as reported by the Florida Phoenix at the time, DeSantis addressed mass shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde, Parkland and Columbine.

He blamed “deranged psychopaths” for the school shooting at Columbine in 1999.

Regarding the White supremacist who killed 10 people in Buffalo, he deflected blame not to guns or the killer’s rancid ideology, but to victims not having guns to fire back. He said mass murderers “do look for areas where they think they’re going be able to get away with it.”

“The Buffalo shooter, for example, said ‘you know I’m going places where I don’t have to worry about people, conceal carry, or anything like that,’” DeSantis said, “because he wants — they wanted basically sitting ducks.”

Speaking about the Parkland shooting, DeSantis did not say the problem was killer having access to guns, instead saying “the shooter didn’t meet the quick resistance that he should have met” that fateful day in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Per the Tampa Bay Times, he offered similar explanations for other mass murders, blaming ideology and eschewing comment on the availability of weapons.

“You have the guy in El Paso, which obviously that was like an ethno-nationalist motivation. Obviously, the Pulse nightclub (mass shooting in Orlando in 2017) was militant Islam. And then you have some people who are just crazy, there’s not necessarily a clear motivation,” DeSantis said. “I think you have to be familiar with all of those types of threats and have the warning signs identified and then do something about it.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


52 comments

  • SteveHC

    October 26, 2023 at 2:19 pm

    Oh yeah, killing 18+ couldn’t *possibly* have anything to do with the ready availability of assault rifles… no, physician-prescribed abortion is MUCH more predicatbly dangerous to America than this, right? What an a**hole, in a totally brain-dead political party.

    • Rich7553

      October 27, 2023 at 9:29 am

      Access to guns, including fully automatic firearms, was infinitely easier before 1968, yet the incidence of mass shootings didn’t trend up until 1993. This refutes your theory on accessibility of guns being a determinate factor.

      • MH/Duuuval

        October 27, 2023 at 10:15 am

        Stats show mass gun violence increased after ban on automatic weapons was lifted by George W who, by the by, created a vast pool of former soldiers in two continents, many of whom suffer with PTSD.

      • rick whitaker

        November 3, 2023 at 4:37 pm

        rich7553, gun lovers are pricks

  • James Wilson

    October 26, 2023 at 2:21 pm

    DeSantis forgot that Nikolas Cruz was an ultra-MAGA fan of Donald Trump. Is he saying that if you are MAGA it is a mental illness? Interesting.

    • Rich7553

      October 27, 2023 at 9:34 am

      Are you seriously suggesting trans shooter Audrey Hale was MAGA? How about the inner city gang shootings? MAGA too? Try again.

      • rick whitaker

        November 3, 2023 at 4:45 pm

        rich7553, audrey hale was torchered by the school she attended and they tried that christian conversion therapy on her for years. so she paid the principal back. if she had had just a pistol, maybe the innocent children wouldn’t have been killed too. read her diary. gun lovers are pricks. christian conversion therapy obviously doesn’t work. neither do guns. evolve.

    • Hung Wiil

      October 27, 2023 at 11:02 am

      Sure James Wilson, just like Jussie Smollett.

  • Michael K

    October 26, 2023 at 2:44 pm

    The answer Ron gives Florida: More guns! More ammo! (But not at his events, but let’s spend $61 million on bulletproof glass to protect our legislators). Let’s flood our communities with unfettered access to more guns! (Our governor, bought and paid for by the NRA).

    • Rich7553

      October 27, 2023 at 9:35 am

      Cry harder.

  • Earl Pitts "America's BIG VOICE on The Right" American

    October 26, 2023 at 2:50 pm

    Good afternoon America,
    It’s just unbelievable that out of all the people in those public places the bad guy was shooting up that not even one citizen pulled out their pistol and blew the bad guy’s brains out.
    Thank you America,
    EPA

    • SteveHC

      October 26, 2023 at 3:02 pm

      – Arm Pitt, a pistol is NO MATCH for an assault rifle. But hey, don’t just take my word for it – the next time YOU see a guy spraying lead all over the place with an automatic or semi-automatic pull out YOUR pistol, take your best aim and give it a shot (pun intended)!

      • Marvin M.

        October 26, 2023 at 4:40 pm

        Well said Steve.

        • Dont Say FLA

          October 26, 2023 at 6:48 pm

          A pistol is not a match for a rifle. However, a pistol is deadly force against a human, and when a USA based human is once again using a rifle for shooting other USA based humans, a pistol is the most reasonable way to stop the deranged human.

          .38 special or .556 AR-15, two humans shooting at each other, whoever lands a bullet in the other person first wins, assuming a bullet does not also land in them in which case nobody wins.

          Obviously a far better way to stop nut sacks with AR15s is to get rid of AR15s. That works until the AR16 hits the market. The only real solution is getting rid of all these shit ass guns and the shit ass people who put them on a pedestal and worship them. Shit asses.

          • rick whitaker

            October 26, 2023 at 8:31 pm

            i couldn’t have said it better. FLA tell earl he’s a fool, he won’t listen to me.

    • grace

      October 26, 2023 at 3:22 pm

      Yes..amazing that the children at a bowling alley were better prepared…Shocked Mr. Pitts. BTW..can registered sex offenders have guns in Florida??

    • john smith

      October 26, 2023 at 8:26 pm

      A simpleton answer from a simpleton. Being a Ron Desantis supporter, I expect a gun supporter comment from you. When a gun totter barges in on you with an ar 15 rifle, then you reach for your pistol as he puts several rifle slugs in you. The majority of america wants to ban military style guns, but rednecks like you and fools like Ron Desantis want to trump the majority with your minority views. Hopefully when Biden wins the 2024 election and flips the congress, then the majority can pass common sense gun control laws. Guys like you with unstable minds will have their guns taken away to protect the innocent citizens.

    • Rich7553

      October 27, 2023 at 9:36 am

      Do you think it just might be because carry is prohibited where alcohol is served for consumption on premises?

      • rick whitaker

        November 3, 2023 at 4:48 pm

        gun lovers are pricks

  • My Take

    October 26, 2023 at 3:28 pm

    Do we know yet what hate radio hè listens to?

    • Hung Wiil

      October 26, 2023 at 3:31 pm

      Tick-tock, My Take.

    • Dont Say FLA

      October 26, 2023 at 6:51 pm

      Given how he killed at a bowling alley and a bar where folks where doing corn hole, he might have been, at least theoretically, wanting to go after MAGA types. This guy could be the first of many libs armed to the teeh, skilled with their arms, and going after MAGA dipshits.

      • Rich7553

        October 27, 2023 at 9:38 am

        More likely he chose places where alcohol is served to ensure no one else would be armed.

        • MH/Duuuval

          October 27, 2023 at 10:17 am

          Yeah, youth night at the bowling alley.

  • Hung Wiil

    October 26, 2023 at 3:29 pm

    Is this supposed to be journalism? I did not see a disclaimer that this was an editorial, opinion piece. This is not a news article.

    As a journalist, why not present the facts that spending on mental health care was $280 billion last year, up from $130 billion in 2013?
    Access, awareness, and attention to mental health are at an all-time high, yet murder, suicide, and homelessness have increased by 35% during the same time period.

    The Maine shooter was under the observation of so-called experts, psychiatrists, and psychologists, but these professionals let another one through. The experts let him have access to the guns! The red flag did nothing. But they all got paid, by taxpayer dollars.
    Saying that we need more of this, is the most gutless, lazy, deluded public policy recommendation, ever. And it will do nothing to address the growing problem of violence in our society.

    • rick whitaker

      October 26, 2023 at 8:42 pm

      you’re right. it’s hard to tell who’s crazy and who isn’t, so to be sure, just get rid of guns, especially military guns and that would help end violence as you say. the maga cult will never spend enough on mental health care, so we can’t expect them to help the violence. the maine case they said the guy was yellow flagged and not red flagged, so if they had done that maybe those 18 people would still be alive. thank you for your caring comment.

      • Rich7553

        October 27, 2023 at 9:39 am

        You’re not getting rid of the guns.

        • rick whitaker

          October 27, 2023 at 11:49 pm

          getting rid of ar 15 style rifles will be a good start. carrying guns in public will be next. rich7553, you can have 100 guns in your home and i don’t care . but when you have them out in public, no that’s not good. usa is the only big country that allows that bs. why are you a gun freak? who are you afraid of? who did you mess over? i never touch guns since my time in the vietnam war. iv’e had to defend myself a few times since then, i just pushed them over and stomped their head, no gun. are you so weak that you need a gun? pitiful.

    • Grace

      October 27, 2023 at 10:30 pm

      Maine got rid of all preventing people from total access to these types the guns so obviouslyes they you didn’t pay attention there are no red flag laws there there are no waiting periods or background checks or anything else so as far as that goes the doctors did what they could do for him and the legislators senators et cetera for the state We’re the failures to these people because they allowed him to have the guns. No one needs an AR15 that’s insane everyone should have a background check and everyone should have a Psychological test to prove they are fit to have a weapon as far as any of these weapons air 15 soldiers are weapons of war they are not needed on our streets and should be removed from the sales in this country the only reason they’re allowed is because the sick political System uses this type of thing to keep their seats with the crazies in this country. The only ones wanting an AR15 are those that think the government is after them that They are going to protect themselves from their own Others that carry AR15. Conspiracy theorists are the ones that have these weapons and sick people who want to just go out and kill whatever. No healthy mind whatever things these weapons were necessary Or think they should be on the streets Or for that matter for sale in this country or elsewhere.

  • MH/Duuuval

    October 26, 2023 at 8:53 pm

    Maine is one of about 20 states that allow permitless carry — having a concealed weapon in public without a permit. Like Florida.

    Maine’s gun laws are lax, but until now their luck has been good with most shootings being suicides and no mass shootings. (Maine has a “yellow-flag” rather than a red-flag law.)

    Weapons of war, large magazines, and ghost guns all need to be banned, and there needs to be a computerized federal gun registration database.

    • Rich7553

      October 27, 2023 at 9:40 am

      Too bad everything you suggested is unconstitutional.

      • MH/Duuuval

        October 27, 2023 at 10:19 am

        We could change the laws and the Constitution, if necessary.

      • rick whitaker

        October 27, 2023 at 11:55 pm

        the constitutional amendment that allows for bearing arms was written before bullets were invented. if you want to have a flintlock musket, then get one. when things change, smart people change with the times. rednecks don’t understand that the world has changed since the 1700’s. you do know it’s 2023 don’t you?

      • rick whitaker

        November 3, 2023 at 4:49 pm

        gun lovers are pricks

  • rick whitaker

    October 26, 2023 at 8:58 pm

    THOSE 20 STATES ARE CRAZY TO HAVE STUPID LAWS LIKE THAT. DO THEY NOT CARE ABOUT PUBLIC SAFETY.

    • Rich7553

      October 27, 2023 at 9:41 am

      I suggest you look up the term “interest-balancing” with regards to the SCOTUS decisions in Heller and Bruen.

      • MH/Duuuval

        October 27, 2023 at 10:21 am

        No, you enlighten us because your right to weapons of war is in no way defensible.

      • rick whitaker

        October 27, 2023 at 11:56 pm

        scotus can suck my cane.

        • MH/Duuuval

          October 28, 2023 at 9:50 am

          Scalia in the Heller decision recognized the need for some state regulation.

  • PeterH

    October 27, 2023 at 12:41 am

    Fun Fact:
    Doctors and Psychiatrists have a legal responsibility of non-disclosure of an individual’s mental and medical health. DeSantis needs to gather his Republicans in Congress to change the law.

    • Rich7553

      October 27, 2023 at 9:43 am

      Democrats pushed HIPAA, not Republicans.

      • MH/Duuuval

        October 27, 2023 at 10:25 am

        This was primarily to protect a woman’s reproductive freedom. It is the GOP legislators, so many suborned by the fear of being primaried and anxious for gun money (e.g., Rubio in 2016), that they sold the public down the river.

      • PeterH

        October 27, 2023 at 12:33 pm

        The House and Senate under Clinton were Republican controlled and Republicans authored the bills sent to Clinton for his signature. HIPPA protects gun nuts.

      • rick whitaker

        October 28, 2023 at 12:14 am

        you sound like a maga cultist so that’s why you make those maga cult type statements. good luck with that.

  • SQ

    October 27, 2023 at 10:21 am

    Funny he attacks other states when Florida has one of the worst mental health care systems in the country, not to mention all the uninsured thanks to him….

    • MH/Duuuval

      October 27, 2023 at 10:25 am

      Preach!

  • JustBabs

    October 27, 2023 at 10:55 am

    Says the man who continually blocks federal funding for healthcare expansion. If he can use the federal funding for his own “giveaways” to friends and donors it’s of no use to him.

    • JustBabs

      October 27, 2023 at 10:59 am

      Correction: “ If he

    • Flash01

      October 27, 2023 at 11:46 am

      He is throwing stones at a glass house for failure of their mental health system.
      Florida’s doesn’t seem have a good system either.

      • MH/Duuuval

        October 27, 2023 at 3:03 pm

        We’re near the bottom in terms of spending for mental health. And, good luck finding help — it’s easier to get the SWAT team in your town.

  • Andrea Tafoya

    October 27, 2023 at 9:33 pm

    I wonder if he had a brain tumor?

  • rick whitaker

    October 28, 2023 at 8:41 am

    floridians voted for him twice, now it’s showing. desantis is not a public servant come election day put a woke dem in office and the healing can begin..

Comments are closed.


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